Caribbean Beat Magazine

Caribbean Christmas Recipes from Khalid Mohammed

Chef Khalid Mohammed’s Caribbean Christmas spread recipes

  • Illustration by Shalini Seereeram
  • Illustration by Shalini Seereeram
  • Illustration by Shalini Seereeram

Last July, the Caribbean’s best chefs and bartenders gathered in Miami for the Caribbean Hotel Associations’s “Taste of the Caribbean” culinary competition, the region’s only inter-island cooking contest. Each national team was given a “mystery basket” from which to create and prepare a full menu. The chefs of the top four teams then had a cook-up to determine the individual Chef of the Year, again from a mystery basket. Bartenders mixed cocktails to determine the Bartender of the Year. The main results were:

The Caribbean Chef of the Year 1999: Martin Maginlay, SuperClubs Grand Lido in Negril, Jamaica

Caribbean Pastry Chef of the Year: Linval Green, SuperClubs Sans Souci Lido, Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Caribbean Bartender of the Year: Ron Webster, Restaurant Ici, Sonesta Resort, Anguilla

Highest scoring culinary team: Curaçao

Team Gold Medals (a score between 91 and 100): Curaçao; Bahamas; Jamaica; Trinidad and Tobago.

Caribbean Beat asked Khalid Mohammed, one of the stars of the Trinidad and Tobago gold medal-winning team, to create a menu for Christmas which reflected Caribbean tradition and innovation. Mohammed, of the Lighthouse Restaurant, Crews Inn Marina, Chaguaramas, won a silver medal in the Individual Chef competition for a menu of Chilli-dusted Tilapia (a freshwater fish), Seared Duck Breast with a Caramelised Orange Sauce, and Beets with a Roasted Corn Purée, with fried plantains for a garnish. His Christmas menu is traditionally Caribbean with international influences designed to “notch it up a little.”

Khalid Mohammed’s Caribbean Christmas Spread

• Side salad of purple cabbage slaw with toasted slivered almonds, rum-soaked raisins, and orange segments dressed with citrus sour cream dressing

• Honey- and cinnamon-basted, roasted turkey with cornbread and mushroom stuffing and sorrel conserve

• Caribbean spices and brown sugar-glazed ham

• Garlic-studded, baked whole Red Snapper with piquant creole sauce

• Wild rice pilaf with dried fruit and pecans, cooked in coconut milk

• Cheesy breadfruit gratin

• Roasted herbed pumpkin and beetroot, drenched in garlic butter

• Beef pastelles

• Traditional black fruit cake

• Warm fruit cobbler with an oat and nut crumble topping, served with fresh whipped cream

Side salad of purple cabbage slaw with toasted slivered almonds, rum-soaked raisins, and orange segments dressed with citrus sour cream dressing


1 purple cabbage, shredded
1/2 white cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, grated
1 bunch parsley, chopped


1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup honey
salt and cayenne pepper to taste


1/2 cup raisins, soaked in 1 cup of dark rum
3 oranges, segmented
1/2 cup slivered, toasted almonds

Mix salad ingredients. Add dressing and half the garnish ingredients and toss well. Adjust seasoning. Garnish with reserved oranges, almonds, and raisins.

Honey- and cinnamon-basted, roasted turkey with cornbread and mushroom stuffing and sorrel conserve

1 turkey (about 8 1/2 lbs) with giblets
1/4 cup melted butter


1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup water
3 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise


4 tbsp olive oil
2 small onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup milk
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced


1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1 egg

Sorrel Conserve

2 lbs sorrel, cleaned
1 lb white sugar
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp five-spice powder
water to cover


Heat oven to 400°F.


Combine corn and cornmeal in a food processor and blend for 30 seconds. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add the corn mixture. Combine the butter, cream, milk and egg, and mix; add to the dry ingredients, thoroughly mixing, and beat until smooth. Place in a buttered baking pan and bake for approx. 35 minutes, or until the centre is firm.

Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened; add the giblets and mushrooms and cook until nicely browned. Crumble the cornbread and add the mushroom mixture, the chopped herbs, and moisten with milk.


Place all baste ingredients in a sauce pan; boil until slightly thickened. Preheat oven to 350°F. Season the cavity of the bird and fill with stuffing mixture. Truss the turkey by tying the legs together. Place in a heavy-bottomed roasting pan and rub the turkey skin with butter. Bake for 1 hour; then baste with honey mixture every 20 mins of the last hour and a half of cooking.

Sorrel Conserve

Put all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan and simmer until the mixture turns thick about an hour. Cool.

Caribbean spices and brown sugar-glazed ham

1 pre-cooked ham


1 tsp allspice powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup water

Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Meanwhile, place all the glaze ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil; simmer for 5 minutes and cool. Place ham in a roasting pan and bake for 40 minutes, basting the ham every 8 minutes.

Garlic-studded, baked whole red snapper with piquant creole sauce

1 red snapper (10-12lb), scaled and gutted
1 cup white wine, or fish stock

Combine and mince the following:

5 cloves garlic, halved
2 scallions
3 pimentos
Scotch bonnet hot pepper, according to taste
1 bunch celery
1 bunch thyme
1 bunch parsley
1/2 bunch shadon beni (cilantro can be substituted)
3 oz fresh ginger
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil

Creole sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
3 diced onions
4 chopped pimentos
3 chopped green bell peppers
2 chopped red bell peppers
3 chopped cloves garlic
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 10-oz can of good quality canned plum tomatoes
2 bay leaves

Make incisions with a paring knife — 5 on each side of the fish; insert a piece of garlic in each incision. Season the cavity well with salt, and rub the minced ingredients all over the fish; marinate for 1 hour. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Pour the white wine into the roasting pan and place fish in it. Bake for 10 minutes, then 5 minutes per lb.

Creole Sauce

In a saucepan, heat oil and add the onions and garlic; sauté until softened. Add pimento and bell peppers; sauté for 5 minutes. Add white wine and reduce by half; add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes; season with salt and cayenne pepper.

Wild rice pilaf with dried fruit and pecans, cooked in coconut milk

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup wild rice
1 cup parboiled rice
4 1/2 cups water
2 cups coconut milk
2 onions, diced
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs thyme
1 bunch parsley, chopped
2 red bell peppers, diced
1/2 cup diced dried fruit, e.g. apricots, raisins, bananas, pineapple, apples, prunes
1/2 cup pecans

Cook wild rice in water until grain splits; drain. In a sauce pan, sauté onions in butter; add parboiled rice and stir until fragrant. Add thyme, bay leaves, and coconut milk; bring to the boil. Add bell peppers; cover with tight-fitting lid and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until rice is cooked. Mix in the wild rice, dried fruit, pecans, and parsley; correct seasoning if necessary. Garnish with extra fruit and nuts.

Cheesy breadfruit gratin

2 breadfruit, skinned and sliced paper-thin
4 cups milk
1 head of garlic
2 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
1 onion, sliced
salt to taste
2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese
1/4 cup melted butter

Bring 2 cups milk and water (enough to cover the breadfruit) to the boil; add salt and breadfruit and blanch until 80% cooked; strain and cool. Take remaining 2 cups milk and add the rest of the ingredients — except the cheese — and simmer for 1 hour; strain. Butter a casserole dish large enough to hold the breadfruit; layer the breadfruit in the casserole, alternating each layer with a little cheese until 2 inches high. Pour seasoned milk to 3/4 way up the gratin; bake in the a 350°F oven until golden brown.

Roasted herbed pumpkin and beetroot, drenched in garlic butter

5 lbs pumpkin, cut into large chunks
5 whole beetroots, washed
1/4 cup oil
Herb garlic butter
1/2 lb butter
chopped parsley, shadon beni, scallion, and thyme, to make 1/2 cup in total
4 cloves garlic, minced

Fold ingredients into the softened butter

Toss pumpkin and beetroot separately in oil; roast separately in 350°F oven until cooked. Peel beetroot, cut to same size as pumpkin; toss together in herb, garlic butter.

Beef pastelles

Originating in Venezuela, this dish is a Christmas tradition in Trinidad

3 lbs minced beef
salt to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 head garlic, minced
3 onions, minced
3 bunches scallions, minced
1 West Indian seasoning pepper (pimento); hot pepper if desired, minced
3 sweet bell peppers, minced
1 bunch thyme, minced
1 cup chopped green olives
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup capers
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 lbs cornmeal
7 cups warm water
1/4 lb margarine
banana leaves
1 tbsp sugar

In large sauté pan, cook seasonings: garlic, onion, scallions, peppers, thyme. Add minced beef, salt, black pepper; cook until well-browned. Turn off heat; add capers, olives, raisins. Warm 7 cups of water; add margarine and season with salt to taste; add sugar and mix with the cornmeal in a large bowl; let sit for 15 minutes. Make 45 balls with the mixture. On the banana leaves, flatten out the cornmeal balls and fill with meat mixture; fold into a pillowcase shape and wrap inside banana leaf (cut to size). Tie the ends of the leaves with string; steam for 30-40 minutes.

Traditional black fruit cake

1 lb butter
1 lb sugar
1 lb prunes, minced
1 lb raisins, minced
1/4 lb mixed peel, minced
2 cups walnuts, chopped
1 bottle rum
1 bottle cherry brandy
3 tsp baking powder
1 lb flour
1 doz medium eggs, beaten
1 lb currents, minced
1/2 lb dates
1/2 lb red and green cherries, chopped and stoned
1/2 cup browning
3 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp mixed spices (cinnamon, nutmeg)

Soak prunes, raisins, mixed peel, currents, dates, chopped cherries, in rum and cherry brandy for a week or longer. Cream butter and sugar; add eggs, then flour and baking powder; mix thoroughly. Add fruit mixture, walnuts, browning, vanilla, mixed spices. Grease and flour cake pan (lined with greased-proof paper); fill pans 3/4 full and bake in slow oven (300°F) for about 1 1/2-2 hours, or until done.

Warm fruit cobbler with an oat and nut crumble topping, served with fresh whipped cream

4 eating apples
3 ripe mangoes
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp lime juice


2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp chilled butter cubes

Preheat oven to 400°F. Core, peel, and slice apples and mangoes; toss with brown sugar and lime juice, and place in oven-proof baking dish.


Combine brown sugar, flour, oats and spices; blend in a food processor. Pulse/combine in the butter cubes. (Dough should look like lumpy cookie-type dough.) Chill. Spoon the topping mixture over the apples and mangoes. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until fruit is tender and topping is crisp and brown. Serve with freshly whipped cream.